There have been recent reports from residents regarding phone scams from people claiming to be from Social Security. The scammer knew the victim’s bank account number and used this knowledge to gain the victim’s trust in order to reveal his/her social security number. An attempt was later made to open a bank account online with this information but the victim’s bank detected and stopped the fraudulent activity. If you receive similar calls please contact your local police department before taking action on your own, when in doubt do not give out your personal data.
This activity is known as Social Engineering, it is when a scammer gains a person’s confidence in order to trick them into divulging sensitive information. This is just one step, but an important one, in the fraud scheme and being security conscious can prevent these frauds from getting off the ground.
It should also be noted that the victims in this scam live in close proximity to each other and it is most likely that the bank account information used by the scammer was obtained either by intercepting mail or taking personal documents from the trash. Always make sure to shred personal documents with cross-cut shredders or better. Basic strip-cut shredders are the least secure. DO NOT discard personal information without taking steps to make it unreadable.
Additionally, always use caution on the internet as scam artists use the same techniques to elicit funds or personal information via e-mail and/or spyware. Keep antivirus/anti-spyware programs updated and setup a firewall on your computer to help avoid losing personal data in the first place.